This is a proposal to support the Yale Clinical and Epidemiology Research in Neurology (CERN) Training Program. The thematic concept and single focus of the proposed program is to train clinical neurologists in clinical and epidemiological research methods. Yale has an exceptionally strong existing research base in clinical neuroscience investigation. The Department of Neurology is ranked the 9th highest clinical neurology department in NIH funding. The critical mass of mentors with specific expertise in epidemiology and clinical research relevant to the neurosciences has led to a natural expansion of the training opportunities at Yale, fostering the development of the proposed program. The engagement of these mentors will provide an outstanding foundation for this novel research training. Our proposed program encompasses four key neurologic disease areas: cerebrovascular disease, neurodegeneration and aging, neuroinflammation, and epilepsy. The program is supported by 20 carefully-selected faculty across the Schools of Medicine and Public Health (YSPH). Our objective is to provide a closely mentored rigorous research training program for postdoctoral physician scientists to gain education and experience with the tools necessary for investigative academic careers focused on human subjects research. Two new CERN Training Program fellows per year will be selected for a two-year training program from clinically trained candidates with MD degrees and prior neurological specialty training (i.e., neurology residency). Central to the training experience will be pursuit of a project involving clinical or epidemiological research in neurology. In addition to pursuing mentored research projects, trainees will complete core coursework in these areas offered through the YSPH, and will participate in a series of regularly scheduled didactic series, seminars and workshops, and a course on the responsible conduct of research, which are available through the Yale Center for Neuroepidemiology and Clinical Neurological Research (CNE2) and the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI). Through a carefully selected didactic and educational program, and close monitoring of trainee progress with a formalized mentoring process, trainees will gain the skills to design and execute rigorous investigative projects, analyze their data, and publish their results. Trainees will be guided both by mentors and YCCI- and YSPH-supported grant-writing workshops, with the goal of having successfully applied for independent career development awards by the conclusion of the fellowship. With abundant resources in the form of study participants, existing cohorts and datasets, outstanding collaborators, and educational opportunities, Yale provides an exemplary environment for clinical and epidemiologic neurologic research. This will be leveraged through this program to train a cadre of leading patient-oriented investigators, with a shared goal of prevention of or reduction of morbidity and mortality associated with neurological disease.
Although substantial progress has been made in understanding the pathogenesis and management of some neurological conditions, we remain unable to effectively treat numerous others, leaving us to contend with a massive burden of disease with substantial long-term disability. Thus, there is a major need in academic neurology for a formal training program focused on the clinical and epidemiological research methods that are relevant to the understanding, prevention, and treatment of neurological disease. This application seeks support for the Yale Clinical and Epidemiology Research in Neurology (CERN) Training Program, a formal two-year clinical and epidemiological research training program developed due to the evident need for rigorous training opportunities for postdoctoral investigators.